Is the lust for presidential power in the genes?

Is the desire to wield power over the masses rooted in a person’s genes? A rather frivolous but fun question which is being brought to light by an aspiring teenage genealogist. She has traced the roots of all of the US presidents from Washington to Obama and dug up a rather surprising common ancestor for almost all of them.

What do Barack Obama, Thomas Jefferson, George W. Bush and the other past U.S. presidents have in common? Besides holding the coveted title of commander-in-chief, it appears that all of them but one are cousins.

The remarkable discovery was made by 12-year-old BridgeAnne d’Avignon, of Salinas, California, who created a ground-breaking family tree that connected 42 of 43 U.S. presidents to one common, and rather unexpected, ancestor: King John of England.

D’Avignon started with the first U.S. president, George Washington, she traced both the male and female family lines to make the connection.

Prior to d’Avignon’s discovery, genealogists were only able to link 22 families of presidents, likely because they only focused on male bloodlines.

The only former commander-in-chief not linked to King John is the eighth president, Martin Van Buren, who had Dutch roots.

Miss D’Avignon also found out that she is an 18th cousin to Barack Obama. (Sorry about that, young lady.) But is it really that remarkable that nearly all of the presidents share a common ancestor from the 12th century? There are lots of bottlenecks in humanity’s genetic history and they come from some fairly eclectic corners. It was previously announced that one in every 200 men are direct descendents from Ghengis Khan. Of course, the same study indicated that there was an equal likelihood that the same percentage of people could be directly descended from some anonymous goat herder in the Ukraine that nobody has ever heard of.

For many – though certainly not all – of the presidents, there is also the matter of entrenched social status. Power and money go hand in hand and that was even more true in medieval times than today. Families rose to power and tended to hang on to it. Those same families produced not only captains of industry but political leaders. Think of the Rockefeller family and all their ilk for only one example. So the genes might not be as big of a driving factor as the inheritance of wealth and influence.

But who’s to say? Maybe there is something to this. We’ve long acknowledged that there are “Type A” and “Type B” personalities. Does that run in families or is it completely random? The only loser here appears to be Van Buren. But on the plus side, his family can at least lay claim to not being related to Barack Obama.